Bellator MMA lightweight champion Michael Chandler and featherweight champion Patricio Freire don’t like each other. Their two-year rivalry drew attention once again last weekend as Chandler took aim at the Brazilian on social media and in an interview, shaping the latest narrative on a possible super-fight between the pair.
You’re right...still waiting. I want you painted into a corner so you have no other choice. #dogowner RT @PatricioPitbull: The fool tries so much to be relevant he keeps refreshing my twitter to find something to reply to— Michael Chandler (@MikeChandlerMMA) January 27, 2019
Chandler told MMAWeekly on Sunday, “I want it, my management wants it, [Bellator CEO] Scott Coker and [matchmaker] Rich Chou want it, and we’ve spoken to his manager. So the only box that hasn’t been checked is him and his camp, and why he hasn’t accepted the fight yet, and let us go forward with negotiations to get a date on it.”
Freire, 31, has a different perspective on the hypothetical matchup between two of the winningest fighters in Bellator history. Annoyed by the comments from his counterpart, the “Pitbull” is biting back.
"Chandler is full of sh-t,” Freire told Sherdog. “Two days before Chandler's tweet, my management was in a meeting with a top Bellator executive and asked them again if they'll book the fight for Apr. 13, as I had requested. But the answer was that they have an interest in that fight, but weren't sure about the booking. After that they probably asked him if he'd be up to the fight, but haven't come back to us with anything.”
In the same chat with MMAWeekly, despite Freire calling for the fight on several occasions in the last two years, Chandler claimed, “I think the fight hasn’t happened yet because, I truly don’t think he wants the fight.” He noted his belief that the two-time 145-pound champion talks a “big game” and that since the two do not have any scheduled bookings, now was the time to settle their differences.
Freire claims Chandler is wholly inaccurate, because he has been itching to face the two-time lightweight champion as far back as 2014.
“I asked Bellator to fight Chandler on 10 days’ notice when Eddie Alvarez got hurt,” he said. “Bjorn [Rebney] was in charge at the time, and I don't know if by Chandler's desire, or their own, [but] Will Brooks got the fight.”
Freire added, “When we both were champions, and even before my brother's second fight with him, I spoke to the Bellator executives about that happening. Bellator never wanted to make it happen.”
Freire claims that after his brother Patricky was unable to compete in a proposed April 2018 interim title bout against Chandler, he offered to fill in for his brother under the same terms, on 20 days’ notice. However, the contract sent by the promotion changed the bout to a non-title fight. That did not sit well with the 13-year veteran.
“I'm a world champion,” Freire said. “You're asking me to fight up a weight class with 20 days’ notice, which would mean less than two weeks of practice, as there was travel and fight week [responsibilities]. This fight has to mean something. Chandler has now been saying to media I had two months or something to prepare, and even though all the truth has been made public, even by Scott Coker, there are those acting in bad faith just letting him run his mouth. He is playing with the media.”
Since a matchup was close last April, Freire asked for an April bout with “Iron Mike” two days before Chandler took to Twitter. The Pitbull Brothers fight team co-founder has not fought since November and wants to return to action soon. It is why he chose April for the fight -- a year removed from the almost-fight last year. He maintains that getting fights has been a consistent problem for him as a champion in Bellator. “I only fought twice last year and I could've fought three or four times. I'm here, you have people willing to take a beating, so line them up,” Freire said.
Freire’s frustration with his light schedule in recent years is only compounded by the belief that fighters that call him out are promoted more by the organization, which he wouldn’t mind -- if it meant more action in the cage.
“Here's the funny thing about Bellator, they'll promote guys calling me and my brother out,” Freire said. “They'll even ask them to do so, but they won't give us the fights even if we demand them. Anyone that calls me out you can be damn sure I'll want to fight. I don't care who they are or what's their records, if they want to fight me, and you're promoting that, make the fight happen. I'm tired of all these motherf-----s talking trash and being protected.”
In the case of these recent call-outs, Freire believes Chandler is looking for a ratings boost. He cites the ratings for the last two events Chandler headlined as evidence he is in need of a matchup that draws more attention than recent outings. Bellator 197 averaged 242,000 viewers -- the second least over the last 20 events -- while Bellator 212 averaged 285,000 viewers, the fourth lowest. Despite this, Freire feels Bellator holds Chandler’s drawing power in higher regard than his own.
“He's their darling,” says Freire. “If they gave me and my brother half the push they give him we would be much bigger than we are now. But my brother is fighting 10 days from now [at Bellator Newcastle], opening their Europe series and people don't even know where or how can they watch that yet. There are several more people in Bellator that deserve more push and attention from them than him. Not just me and my brother. Yet he's the one getting it.”
Freire believes Chandler and Bellator management have an uncommon relationship compared to other fighters on the roster. He speculates that that relationship allows Chandler to hold sway over fight booking for himself and others. “Patricky was extremely displeased with them,” Freire said. “He could have fought [Brent Primus] in different moments last year, but Bellator let Chandler decide. Primus said Chandler denied fighting him, and that he could fight my brother on the same event [Chandler] was fighting [[Goiti] Yamauchi]. He was healthy [but] they had him wait on the Chandler and Yamauchi [winner]. How do you make the champion wait for the contender? You had my brother coming from wins over [[Josh] Thomson] and [Benson Henderson]. How come he's not getting his shot?”
Although there is still no official date for a fight between the two, “Pitbull” believes it is now just an eventuality. “It will have to happen. I'll make it happen,” Freire said.
However, he knows he can do only so much, and thinks the fans have the power to make it a reality. “Let your voice be known,” he said to those fans. “Tell Bellator you want this fight to happen. Tell them to do the right thing.”
Freire has a separate message for Chandler supporters. “I challenge Michael Chandler to post a picture of his bout agreement for this fight, signed,” he said.